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Former chair of Radiology, avid art collector James dies

Apr. 6, 2017, 9:07 AM

A. Everette James Jr., M.D., J.D., a renowned imaging expert, art collector and former chair of Vanderbilt’s Department of Radiology and Radiological Sciences, died recently in North Carolina. He was 78.

A. Everette James Jr., M.D., J.D.

Dr. James served as chair from 1975-1991, and during his tenure oversaw significant growth in the department’s stature and resources, substantially increasing the number of faculty, residents and fellows. Also during this time, several new imaging technologies were introduced to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, including high speed X-ray tomography, magnetic resonance angiography, magnetic resonance spectroscopy, single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) and positron emission tomography (PET).

“Dr. James is widely admired as a true luminary in radiology. We were so lucky to have him serve as chair of our department,” said Reed Omary, M.D., Carol D. and Henry P. Pendergrass Professor of Radiology and Radiological Sciences and chair of the department. “Our success and reputation are in large part due to his visionary leadership, which in turn allowed him to recruit such superb faculty and trainees.”

Dr. James was an honors graduate of the University of North Carolina (1959) and Duke University Medical School (1963).

His post-doctoral work was at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, Mass General Hospital in Boston, and as Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine in England.

In 1965 he served in Vietnam with the 93rd Hospital Evacuation Unit. Following his military service, he completed his residency (1968-69) at Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital.

Prior to coming to Vanderbilt, Dr. James was the director of Radiological Research Laboratories at Johns Hopkins Medical School.

He was a Scholar of the Institute of Medicine, a Visiting Scientist at the National Cancer Institute/National Institutes of Health in 1991-92 and Senior Program Officer of the National Academy of Sciences (IOM) in 1993-94, all in Washington, D.C. In 1994-95 he served the Special Advisor to the Governor of North Carolina and Board of Science and Technology. For more than 20 years he served as a consultant to the National Zoo of the Smithsonian and as a member of the National Council of Radiation Protection (NCRP).

He has had numerous significant roles in organized academic radiology, including past presidencies of the American Roentgen Ray Society, the Association of University Radiologists and the Society of Chairmen of Academic Radiology Departments.

A lifelong, avid art collector, Dr. James — who returned to his native North Carolina after leaving Vanderbilt — championed bringing art and the humanities into hospital settings through exhibitions, lectures and other events.

He and his wife, Nancy Jane Farmer, were noted collectors of American art, with a particular focus on Southern art. Since retiring to Chapel Hill, he had been a guest curator and lecturer on many art forums both nationally and internationally. His collections of 19th and early 20th century American art, North Carolina art pottery, North Carolina quilts and North Carolina waterfowl decoys have been widely exhibited.

Dr. James was the author of more than 540 articles, 200 book chapters and more than 20 books on medicine, law, ethics, art, folklore and fictional works.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by son Everette James III, wife Gretchen and grandchildren Katie and Charlotte, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; daughter Jeannette James Whitson, husband Clay Whitson Sr. and grandchildren Clay Jr. and Elizabeth, of Nashville.

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